Cooks Corner: How to Look For Fresh When Buying Fish

Good fish looks good, has firm, unmarred flesh, and smells like fresh sea water!

It’s easy to tell when a fish is getting past its prime. As it gets older the enzymes that hold the muscles together begin to break down. The flesh gets softer and the meat breaks apart, which I’ve learned is a process called gaping. Whole fish gives you more signals than fillets or steaks. Look for red gills, bright reflective skin, flesh that is firm to the touch, an undamaged layer of scale, and no browning anywhere. If the fish you are looking to purchase passes the appearance test, make sure to smell it before the fishmonger package it up. If the smell if off, hand it right back.

The best whole fish look alive, as if they just came out of the water. The eyes should be clear and bright – they get cloudier with age.

Leave the Head On

If you plan on freezing fresh fish, leave the head on!Β Other than the fact that fish looks better with the head on (in my opinion), the more you cut a fish, meaning the more you expose the flesh, there is a greater chance of freezer burn.

Fish Fillets & Steaks

Most fillets and steaks are cut before they even reach a supermarket fish counter. Here’s how you’ll know they’re fresh:

The surface should be bright, clear, reflective – almost translucent.

The colour should be consistent with the type of fish. For example, pearly white fish should not have spots of pink, which are usually bruises, or brown, which indicate spoilage.

Creamy or ivory-coloured fish should have no areas of deep red or brown.

Get to know the ideal appearance of your favourite fish. Reject any that does not meet your standards.

I’m Eartha with today’s Cooks Corner – a how to guide.

See more: Food You’ll Love Cooking!

15 thoughts on “Cooks Corner: How to Look For Fresh When Buying Fish

  1. Pingback: Cooks Corner: A List of Ingredient Substitutions | Eartha Cooks

  2. Excellent tips dear Eartha! And you’re right: SMELL the darn thing before buying it:) It should smell fresh, it’s a pleasant, “clear” smell of fresh fish, which reminds one of the sea. We always keep the head on, like you do, it definitely looks better:)
    What are your favorite ones? We have a lot of fresh sea bream types here and we love chubby sardines on a charcoal grill as well:) We usually serve the fish with ladolemono sauce (EVOO-lemon-salt-pepper-dry oregano). We throw a salad on the side and are totally happy:):)
    Lots of greetings from warm and sunny Athens!

    Liked by 1 person

    • πŸ‘‹ Hello Panos & Mirella! My all time favourite fish is Red Snapper. I grew up eating this fish as a young foodie in the making in Jamaica. When my Mom would try to introduce different types of fresh fish like Parrot and Goat Fish, I was not hearing it! I did not like the taste – already being used to eating snapper. I also enjoy eating Codfish, Porgy (aka black snapper), Trout, Mackerel and Salmon. Sad to say I’ve yet to have fresh sardines. My mom served it growing up, but from a can. Fresh sardines on a charcoal grill sounds like good eating!!
      Ladolemono sounds great for pairing with fish. Those are ingredients I’d rub on fish before baking it.
      Nice to hear from you as always! Please send some of that sunshine to Canada. πŸ˜€ xoxo


    • Yes Nicolas, leave the head on! Why waste it too? There’s some good parts on there to eat. You can also make fish stock, or a light soup with the head. Just don’t eat the eyes like my mom does. πŸ˜• Glad you like the pic. Thanks for checking it out.

      Liked by 1 person

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